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More disaster prevention staff than before 3/11

January 10, 2015

Most prefectures, major cities acquire more disaster-prevention staff after 2011 quake



Some 80 percent of prefectural governments and "designated cities," which are granted increased autonomy, have placed more staff in disaster prevention posts since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Small municipal governments, on the other hand, are having difficulty securing staff for disaster management, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has found.

The Mainichi Shimbun conducted the survey on disaster-prevention personnel between November and December last year. It asked all 47 prefectural governments, 20 government-designated cities and 139 municipal governments that have been selected by the Cabinet Office as areas that require special tsunami prevention measures for a possible Nankai Trough earthquake how many disaster-prevention staff members they had, both at present and in fiscal 2010, before the Great East Japan Earthquake. It also asked whether they had high-level management posts specializing in disaster prevention.

The survey found 38 prefectural governments including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and 16 designated cities had increased the number of workers in disaster-prevention positions. The Kyoto Municipal Government increased such posts from 12 to 26, while the Sakai Municipal Government in Osaka Prefecture boosted the number from 10 to 25.

Kyoto increased the number of disaster management staff at ward offices to improve local-level disaster prevention measures, while the Sakai government said it had reviewed local anti-disaster plans preparing for a Nankai Trough earthquake. The Shimane Prefectural Government, which increased posts for disaster management by 1.6 times, said the increase was to counter a possible nuclear disaster.

The number of disaster prevention staff was cut at nine local governments, including the Aomori Prefectural Government, but only slightly. At least one prefectural government explained that it transferred authority over anti-disaster measures to municipal governments.

The overall number of disaster prevention staff at prefectural governments and designated cities increased from 2,489 before the March 2011 quake to 2,943 in 2014 -- a rise of 18 percent. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the number of personnel at those local governments dropped by 3 percent, from 367,048 to 354,663, in the same period, highlighting local governments' shift of personnel to reinforce disaster prevention measures.

A total of 139 municipal governments have been designated as special tsunami prevention areas. Of the 134 that responded to the survey, 63 had increased the number of disaster-prevention staff. At the same time, 37 local governments had no staff specializing in disaster management.

Itsuki Nakabayashi, a specially appointed professor at Meiji University's graduate school, says local governments should educate staff in disaster prevention by sending them to training sessions held by the central government.

January 10, 2015(Mainichi Japan)


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